More than 50 new vehicles to debut at Detroit auto show

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Windsor Star/Grace Macaluso

Rob Downie expects to see the fruits of his company’s labour at the North American International Auto Show.

“It will be interesting to see what your products look like on the car,” said Downie, vice-president and general manager of Toolplas Systems Inc., in Oldcastle.

Toolplas produced the moulds for the hard trim on the 2015 Ford F-150 — the most highly anticipated premiere at the Detroit event, which will unveil more than 50 new vehicles from around the world.

Windsor’s machine, tool, die and mouldmakers will leave their stamp on what is expected to be one of the most optimistic auto shows in years. It kicks off today and Tuesday with press preview days before opening its doors at Cobo Hall to the public Saturday and running to Jan. 26.

“We’re seeing continuing improvement in the industry,” said David Palmer, chair of  the Canadian Association of Moldmakers. “We love to see the energy at the auto show and the way it  reflects the industry’s resurgence.”

As well as the F-150, other debuts include the 2015 Chevrolet CorvetteZ06, Cadillac ATS coupe, Chrysler 200, Acura TLX, Honda Fit and Hyundai Genesis. There also will be several concept vehicles, which virtually disappeared from the auto shows of the recession years.

“That points to the recovery,” said Jessica Caldwell, senior industry analyst at “Concepts are expensive to make. They get people excited and generate a lot of buzz.”

Rod Alberts, NAIAS executive director, said the auto show offers a snapshot of the industry. “Last year was a good year. What you see happening now is the excitement and passion of seeing things being back on track. This is a big comeback.”

Last year, North American auto sales almost reached 18 million units, said Dennis DesRosiers, a Toronto-based industry analyst. This year, they could hit 19 million.

In fact, 2014 will see a record number of new vehicle launches in North America just as the U.S. industry’s recovery gathers steam — a two-pronged development which bodes well for the industry’s supply chain, said DesRosiers.

“There will more than 70 all new products coming into the market this year. We’ve never gotten more than 60,” said DesRosiers.  “The biggest upside of new product is the machine, tool and mold industry. Every time you introduce a new model, you need tools top to bottom.”

Downie said his company, which employs about 190 workers, is currently bidding for work on new vehicle programs, primarily with Ford, Chrysler, General Motors and Honda.

“This  year our sales forecast is very strong,” he said. “We’re still booking work well into 2015.”

DesRosiers said the North American auto industry is expected to continue to grow well into 2018.

“This is a real recovery and is going to last for quite some time.”